Many of the most productive people in the world credit some of their success to an elaborate morning ritual, from Steve Jobs to Benjamin Franklin. Reading articles describing these rituals can make you feel like in order to succeed, you need to rise before dawn, meditate, and cook an elaborate breakfast in order to start your day right. This, of course, isn’t the case, and morning routines vary quite a bit from person to person, even among top executives and entrepreneurs. With that said, a morning routine can be very helpful for adding structure to your day. If you’re the kind of person who prefers to stay up late or fly by the seat of your pants, you may be wondering: is sticking to a strict morning schedule really necessary? Let’s find out.
Routine vs. Ritual
Some people call their morning schedule a routine, and others call it a ritual. Though they’re somewhat interchangeable, one of the biggest distinctions between a morning routine and a morning ritual is the intent behind it. A morning routine is designed to simply get you up out of bed, showered, dressed, and on your way. A morning ritual is specifically designed to set you up for a successful day—and its consistency is key for those who swear by their morning rituals. People who have these rituals get up at the same time every day (yes, even on weekends), and spend some time focusing on their physical and mental well-being. So while there is a routine involved with a morning ritual, it’s more focused on the person than on the result.
How Does a Morning Ritual Help You Focus?
So much of our day we spend focusing on other people—so much so that we often don’t make time for ourselves. By carving out that time at the beginning of your day instead of the end of the day, you set the tone for the entire day. Starting the morning with something that’s just for you helps you start the day on a positive note, allowing you to focus on your obligations during the workday. You’ll also get a chance to collect your thoughts and prepare yourself for the day before you start thinking about the stresses of the workday. Some rituals can even help boost productivity and engagement during the day, which can help increase performance and satisfaction.
It Takes Time to Build Habits
Thinking about adopting a new morning ritual to set you up for a productive day? It’s worth noting that these rituals don’t become second nature right away. It takes time to develop a habit—about 66 days on average—and you can’t expect to build a new morning ritual in just a few days or weeks. Because of this, it can also take time to realize what isn’t working for you, which means you should always give new habits a chance before you make changes to your routines.
Everyone is Different
In the end, everyone is different when it comes to their morning rituals. What is a relaxing and energizing routine for some people sounds like torture to others, and there’s no reason to try to force something on yourself that doesn’t work for you. For example, Some people check their mobile devices right away when they wake up, others thrive on putting the phone aside until they’ve showered, had breakfast, and spent a little quiet time away from the electronics. There’s no wrong or right way to build a morning!
Do You Need a Ritual?
So: do you need a morning ritual to succeed? Do you need one to get out of bed, out of the house, and into the office? Of course not! You can structure your morning any way that works for you. But if you’re finding yourself frazzled as you grab your keys and rush out the door, then you might want to think about re-organizing your morning and adopting a morning ritual to keep you refreshed and productive throughout the day—just like celebrities and executives do.
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Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.